Sprint vs. Classic

“To all those people I say: Get a dog!”

 –Jennie Goldberg

 Wildwater started out as true downriver racing- go as fast as possible from one point to another on a river without portaging.  Classic racing always mimicked this, even if short.  Sprint was introduced just before I started paddling wildwater, with two short runs down a major rapid and the times added.

 While my highest places in World Championships have been in sprints, my best percentages have always been in classic races, and I consider myself a better classic racer than a sprint racer.  I have trouble getting my stroke rate high enough and generating enough power to be really fast in a sprint, and I like the time classic affords me to think about my technique while I’m paddling.  The frenetic pace of sprint doesn’t allow for that at all.  But my feelings about sprint pale in comparison to those of Jennie.

 The sprint course at the Nanatahala requires a long walk between runs.  Jennie comments: “ninety seconds of paddling followed by a 20 minute hike… my hip is bruised from carrying my boat.  And sprint is getting more popular.  All these people paddling for two minutes and walking their boats back up the course.  I don’t want to take my boat for a walk. And people don’t remember how hard it is to get out of your boat and hike it up the hill.  On sprint days all I’m doing is walking my boat.  To all those people I say: Get a dog!”

 It seems that internationally, the sport is focusing more on sprint, as it’s much easier for spectators to see and understand.  But some of us still prefer the longer race.

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One Comment on “Sprint vs. Classic”

  1. Chris N Says:

    Classic – PAH!!


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